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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

KCTV's investigation of JoCo DA Phill Kline

Kline KCTV had an investigative story about JoCo District Attorney Phill Kline last night raising questions about his work schedule and whether he really lives in Johnson County. Here's a link to the piece. The station fought to get records of the courthouse's security system to see when Kline got to work and when he left. Reporters also watched the apartment he rents in Stilwell -- they say they never saw him staying there in the course of the dozen or so stakeouts they conducted.

I got a response from Brian Burgess, Kline's spokesman. (It's not his whole email because it's just too long. Even this excerpt is longer than what I like to put in a thread.)

As for the residency issue, Kline rents an apartment in Stillwell and owns a home in Topeka, as he told KCTV5. What they fail to mention is that he was born in Kansas City, Kansas, was raised in Shawnee, graduated from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, and even represented Shawnee in the Kansas House of Representatives for eight years. He bought a house in Topeka only when he became Attorney General in 2003. With the housing market down and his daughter in high school, the Kline’s decided to get an apartment in Johnson County rather than immediately sell the house in Topeka.

KCTV5’s claim that he doesn’t spend any time there is pure nonsense.  Perhaps if they woke up a little earlier to catch him when he leaves for work, they could have done a more accurate and truthful story. 

Today on Darla Jay’s radio show, they implied that the security gate records were incomplete and inaccurate. Sam Zeff said when they asked about this, our office told them that the records were “purged” on a routine basis. They then raised questions about the missing time stamps and implied we were trying to cover something up.

Here are the facts about the security logs:

1) Channel 5 never sued the DA office for security gate records, they sued the Johnson County Sheriff and the County itself. Kline was not opposed to releasing the records but certain county officials felt it would set a bad precedent from a security standpoint to release such information. That is why KCTV5 had to sue the county (not the DA!)

2) The DA office has never handled or maintained the security gate records, that is done by the Johnson County Sheriff.

3) Any omissions, purged data, or inaccuracies are the result of how the system functions or is operated by the Johnson County Sheriff

4) Channel 5’s “number crunchers” used incomplete and inaccurate information to arrive at a “best guess” average for the time Kline works. Their number crunching is based on utterly inaccurate information. Further, I would remind people that the DA job is not strictly confined to the four walls of the DA office, so not only is the data inaccurate, it’s irrelevant.

A gob of bloggers have given their take on the report here, here, here, here, here. The Pitch's Eric Barton has an especially good post here. (Hat Tip: Thanks, kayceewolf, for pointing it out.)

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